Here is an essay on the Mahabharata.
The Mahabharata is the bulkiest Epic consisting of 100,000 verses and is divided into 18 paravas (books). This book is usually assigned to Rishi Ved Vyas, but scholars have expressed doubts if such a great work could have been accomplished by one single person. Hopkins believes that it was composed by not one person, nor even by one generation, but by several.
Mahabharata differs from Ramayana in a basic sense in so far as the later depicts the conflicts of the Aryans and non-Aryans, the former is a story of conflict between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, both Aryan people.
The battle of Mahabharata, which was fought at Kurukshetra, involved the Aryan kings of almost the entire of India.
While Kashi, Kosala, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi and Yadus of Mathura allied with the Pandavas, the Yavanas, Sokas, Madras, Kambojas, Kaikeyas, Sindhus, Sanviras, the Bhojas, the Andhras, the rulers of Mahismati, Avanti and Pragjyotish were the allies of the Kurus. Ultimately the Pandavas won a victory with the help of Krishna.
According to the story of Mahabharata, King Shantanu, of the Lunar dynasty, ruled over Hastinapur, a territory lying between river Ganges and Jamuna. He had two sons Bhisma and Yichitravirya. As Bhishma remained unmarried, Vichitravirya became the king. Vichitravirya had two sons—Pandus and Dhritrashtra.
Since Dhritrashtra was blind by birth, Pandu became the king. Pandu had five sons who were known as Pandvas. Dhritrashtra on the other hand had 100 sons and they were known as Kurus. After the death of Pandu Dhritrashtra became the king.
He was a benign ruler and took good care of his nephews, and provided them good education. But the sons of Dhritrashtra, particularly his eldest son Daryodhan was jealous of them. He conspired and managed to exile the Pandavas, who settled down near Delhi and founded a new capital Indraprastha.
In the meanwhile Arjun, one of the Pandavas, won Draupadi, the princess of Panchal-Desha as a result of Swyamvara. Duryodhan, who was still jealous of the Pandavas, invited them to his kingdom to a game of dice.
In the course of the game Yudhisthra, the eldest Pandava, lost everything, including Draupadi, the wife of five Pandavas, in the game. As a result once again the Pandavas were sent on exile for 13 years. After completing the term of their exile the Pandavas claimed their kingdom.
However, Daryodhan refused to return the same and this ultimately resulted in the battle of Mahabharata, which lasted for eighteen days. It is said that at first Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, hesitated to fight against his own kith and kins.
At this juncture Krishna, his ally, gave him the divine message which is contained in the Bhagavad Gita. As a result Arjuna took up arms and fought bravely. In this battle an unprecedented slaughter of men took place and all the Kurus were killed.
Then Yudhishtra became the king. After some time the five Pandvas retired to the Himalayas and handed over the kingdom to King Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna. It may be noted that besides the main story mentioned above, the Mahabharata contains a number of other mythical and legendary stories as well.